Up until 2013 Shepton Mallet prison stood as the oldest working prison in the UK, having housed every kind of convict for some 400 years, including the Kray twins. However, its long reign of housing isn’t over yet, as although it will no longer be home to Britain’s underbelly, the Grade II listed building is becoming an upmarket apartment block.
Work is now well under way in transforming this former prison into brand new apartments, ditching the razor wire, bars on the windows and imposing prison doors for something a tad more upmarket.
Although prices have not been finalised for the 160 apartments, you will be expected to pay around £125,000 for a ‘cell’ with two bedrooms, or up to £500,000 for a four-bedroom family home. In order to create sufficient living space for each occupant, developers are knocking through as many as four or five cell walls.
City & Country, the developers taking on the task, will turn the rock-hard beds, in-cell toilets and exercise yard, into soft furnishings, en suite bathrooms and beautiful garden grounds, which residents will be able to wander around as and when they please.
But the mammoth task will be what to do with the prison walls. Shepton Mallet is still home to the highest prison walls in Britain. Although a huge asset in terms of security, City & Country do not want the development to be inaccessible to the local community. The forthcoming months will include many debates on whether or not the walls will remain as a fortress-like barrier, or if they’ll be opened up at various points.
Residents of Shepton Mallet have been invited to look around the prison, many of them entering for the first time in their life. However, this isn’t the only prison City & Country have entered, as these developers have also bought prisons in Gloucester, Dorchester and Portsmouth.
By turning the prison into apartments, City & Country are trying to embrace the surroundings instead of eradicating them, a notable feature in some of their previous industrial developments. The above photo is taken from a bedroom in the Standon Mill apartments. When developing the old factory mill, they kept its industrial exterior and incorporated it within by leaving some of the wall faces bare and exposing its brick, as well as keeping the grid block windows.
However, this was paired with soft and neutral furnishings helping to combine the buildings historic design with a modern finish.
Shepton Mallet prison, which was built in 1610, will now be given at least 100 more years of life. The building is located on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet and the development is only eight miles away from Castle Cary station, with London only an hour and a half commute away. So if you fancy getting away from the confinements of the capital, perhaps a renovated prison is the way to go!
Due to be finished in 2017, the new apartments will not only help tackle the housing deficiency, but will also give occupants a wonderful sense of security.